I Did This So I Don’t End Up Killing Myself…

When we say we are a family of more than 3 million users, we have every reason to believe it!

We feel honored for being trusted; we are overwhelmed with love, care and affection. But nothing gets us going more than when a user genuinely reaches out to us, only to let us know that we somehow made a positive difference. We helped!

We have been receiving a lot of responses on our cyberstalking campaign — stories of parents, friends and victims. One such story was shared recently with us by a caring father. The dad requested anonymity but permitted us to share his experience with our community — parents to be more specific.

Here is what he has to say:

“They call me paranoid at times and that it may actually drive my daughter away from me. But I don’t mind it at all, I would much rather love to have my daughter hate me for being protective rather live with the thought that I wasn’t careful enough. She is 16, growing up and I know how kids these days love being independent; heck, they don’t even want parents to befriend them on Facebook. Seeing as how I wouldn’t have liked my mom or my dad being in the same pub I was at back in the day makes me kind of okay with letting my kids be.

Kid things, we have all been there.

But what I find troubling is being completely distant and leaving your kids on their own. Especially when you have all this worrying news of some stalker troubling your loved one. Back in the day you could punch a stalker in the face and move on for they had to be following you, right? Not these days though, since they have cell phones, multiple numbers, WhatsApp, Facebook, and God knows what. You can’t trace them that easy, you can’t stop them at all. All you can do is play as safe as possible, ensure you are all cautious. Cyberstalking, yeah that’s the word.

I chanced upon your article here and thought it was missing an important element or two, especially on how parents’ can play their part in ensuring their kids’ protection from these criminals.

What actually happens when your kids go online?

  1. They create their Facebooks, Instagrams, Snapchats, etc.
  2. They start sharing their life on these platforms, pretty normal, right?
  3. Pictures get tagged, individuals get identified, you meet old friends, etc.
  4. You enjoy posing with friends, getting likes, feeling like a celebrity.

Awesome! Kids love it, adults love it, who doesn’t!

But wait, there’s something you are ignoring.

There is a universal constant in each of the things you post. An always praising, liking, caring individual. This constant starts low, rises the ranks, is flirtatious and gets you going. Heck, who doesn’t like being admired? It’s all okay. It’s just a casual random person showing interest…..

Maybe, maybe not. I can’t risk something over a maybe, I need to be sure. It’s my daughter, it could be your daughter. We have heard how such things have transformed into something devastating. I promised I will not make this sensational, I promised I will not dig up old incidents and post them here. I will not. We are all aware of the crimes I am talking about.

I noticed this random admirer and I did the only thing I thought was sensible enough to do. I sat down with my daughter and shared with her a few things, which I am putting down here for all to benefit from (it has been helpful for me).

My “I am CyberStalking Safety” List

  1. Am I sharing too much of my personal life online? Things like:
    • My family and friends pictures
    • My friends, close ones, etc.
    • All the places I visit, my favorite cafes, hangouts, etc.?
    • My plans this summer

  2. Am I social-media-ly responsible?
    • Am I following up best practices on securing my online accounts?
    • Have I restricted my online profile to friends and family (even friends of friends can be troubling)?
    • Have I shared my password with someone else (you don’t do this ever)?
    • Do I access my social accounts from public places like cafés, libraries, etc.?

  3. Do I receive random messages from people I don’t know? Do I engage with them? Ignore them? Block them?

  4. I know someone who has started acted very affectionate, close or flirting?
    • Asking for a meetup
    • Requesting your pictures
    • Trying to get information that is very personal to you (RED ALERT – Your dad needs to know, NOW!)

  5. Denial of the above has caused change in behavior:
    • Frustration
    • Resentment
    • Threats (RED ALERT- Your dad needs to know NOW!)

  6. Do I inform someone in my family if I receive too many messages?
    • The person you inform should be your parents, or a sibling.
    • It can’t be your best friend or your buddy.

  7. I have started receiving messages and emails. The messages are:
    • Totally random and senseless (okay, probably some scam scheme running)
    • Invites with links to some random websites (RED ALERT! – Don’t click any link!)
    • Emails where body says – Your password hacked! Click to restore your account now! (Never click these, unless you can verify this from a trusted source and from a service you actually use)
    • I have your pictures from the last party! Meet me or I will share those pics on the internet! (RED ALERT! – Don’t panic, inform Dad!)

  8. I get calls from random numbers.
    • Hello, is this Anny? No, sorry, wrong number. Hangs up. (Okay happens, don’t worry).
    • Hello! You made a wrong choice to unfriend me, I will hurt you bad….check your inbox! (RED ALERT! Don’t panic, inform Dad!)

That was it back then. Word by word as it was. Truth be told, I had prepared this list reading up some expert advice online, but it all came handy. Why? Because my daughter’s reply was just magic. It made me feel special:

So the “hello guy” on Red Alert gets punched or a roundhouse on the face?

Great she didn’t call me paranoid.”

To the dad who took the time out to pen his thoughts and cared enough to share it with others:

YOU, SIR, HAVE OUR UTMOST RESPECT!

We hope the courage you’ve shown motivates other parents to come forward and share their take on this extremely sensitive issue.

If you have a story to share with us, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected]

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